Learning Labs

What is it?

Learning Labs are like having the museum as a school for the day. This museum learning program is inquiry based, and staff-led. Museum staff will be working alongside classrooms, investigating big ideas with the galleries as a backdrop. The Learning Lab may include behind the scenes visits in order to deepen an understanding of the role of the museum as a site for research and learning. The times for when classes are at the museum for a Learning Lab are flexible, to align with the needs of the classroom. 

Interested in booking a Learning Lab? Contact our Group Booking office with a request or contact Chris O'Connor in the Learning Department


Governance and Beyond 

This lab explores the different ways of governance, beginning with indigenous ways of knowing and being. The day-long lab starts at the Royal BC Museum and finishes across the street at the Legislative Assembly of BC. Students will be able to experience the processes of governing through a diverse lens, across multiple institutions. Recommended for grades 3-7.

October through March (Fridays), 10:00 am - 2:30 pm

In partnership with the Parliamentary Education Office. The day begins at the Royal BC Museum, and concludes at the Legislative Assembly of BC.

From the Beginning; Origin Stories and Indigenous Culture 

This Learning Lab will focus on alternative histories and narratives of origin. Through art and belongings, students will explore stories of connection to the earth, interconnection through families and clans and the role of oral and visual storytelling and teachings. Recommended for grades 4-12.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Gold Rush: Photography and Memory

This Learning Lab will look at how we read photographs and how that process can help us better understand history. The tour will incorporate historical thinking concepts such as ‘change and continuity’ and ‘historical perspectives’. It will be presented primarily in the gold rush displays of the Becoming BC gallery. Recommended for grades 3-7.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Numbers of Nature

“Change is the only constant in BC’s natural history.” This statement greets all visitors to the Natural History gallery, and the gallery clearly illustrates the concept. Visitors learn about mass extinctions, climate change and biodiversity, from the Ice Age to the present day, and they are reminded that life in BC and  on the planet has been shaped and changed by processes in constant motion. This trailhead tour will help students and teachers establish connections between mathematics and science and consider how these disciplines help us understand change in BC’s natural history. Recommended for grades 2-7.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Predator versus Prey: The Case of the Cougar

This lab introduces students to the predators and prey of British Columbia, with a special focus on the complicated relationship between cougars and humans. Students will discover what makes a successful hunter, how animals protect themselves from predation and how humans complicate food webs and predator-prey relationships. Recommended for grades 2-7.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Exploring BC Through the Past, Present and Future

This lab focuses on the curricular competencies of continuity and change, as well as historical evidence. Through your guided visit, we will be examining and handling BC artifacts, exploring the museum and thinking about what these artifacts might be like in the future. This hands-on experience will appeal particularly to grades K–3.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Ethics: Dialogue and Debate

How do you tell right from wrong? In this lab, students will engage in ethical dialogue, using the museum’s core exhibitions to understand how we can make ethical decisions in our everyday lives. The focus of this lab will be on understanding ethics through discussion and debate. We may address topics like Truth and Reconciliation, pipelines, environmental stewardship and representation (in museums and beyond). Recommended for grades 4-12.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Simple Machines

This tour is designed to introduce students to the simple machines found within the gallery[AM1] [coc2] . By the end of the tour, students will be able to identify the six basic simple machines, explain their uses and find them in the gallery. Students will also be able to make connections between what they have seen in the gallery and what can be found in their own classrooms and homes. Recommended for grades 3-6.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Power of Cartography: Mapping BC

Maps are social constructions. They can represent power or exclusion, telling us what was significant to the people who created them. We’ll explore the many historical maps in the galleries, learning about who made them, what was included and what was excluded as we begin to inquire into the historical significance of maps in BC. Recommend for grades 4-12.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Reading an Object

This Learning Lab encourages students to explore the meaning and purpose behind museums. Old Town (in the Becoming BC gallery) provides a window into the past and offers an opportunity to examine which stories the museum presents and with what objects. Students will be encouraged to ask questions and think critically about the importance of heritage and the role of preservation in nurturing an understanding of the past. Recommended for grades K-12.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Ceremonies and Science of Seasons 

This Learning Lab will explore the social studies and science of the seasons with a focus on First Peoples’ perspectives. How did First Peoples view the thirteen phases of the moon in a lunar cycle? When is it safe to harvest the bark of a cedar tree? Why do frogs signify the arrival of spring? These questions and many more will be addressed in the museum’s First Peoples, Our Living Languages and Natural History galleries. Recommended for grades K–3.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Helmcken Christmas

This learning lab looks at the Christmas traditions from the late 19th, early 20th century.Using material from the Royal BC Museum collections and those of the BC Archives, the program encourages students to explore the ways in which Christmas in Victoria (and British Columbia) were celebrated, all within the historical significant Helmcken House. Students will also have the opportunity to relive early Victorian school days in historic St. Ann’s schoolhouse. Recommended for grades K-4.

December, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Let’s Talk

This lab is up to you. Give us a sense of what you want and we’ll work with you to create something that fits your classrooms needs. For classes coming from outside of Greater Victoria this option can provide an introduction to the museum and behind the scenes access, while giving plenty of time for open exploration of the museum for your students.Recommend for grades K-12.

October through June, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm


Who are the Learning Labs for?

We develop Learning Labs for all learners, from grades K-12

Suggested programs for grades K-2:

  • The Ceremonies and Science of Seasons, Predator vs. Prey, Exploring BC Through the Past, Present and Future, Helmcken Christmas

Suggested programs for grades 3-7

  • Governance and Beyond, Simple Machines, Gold Rush, The Numbers of Nature, Reading an Object

Suggested programs for grades 8-12

  • Ethics: Dialogue and Debate, From the Beginning: Origin Stories and Indigenous Culture, The Power of Cartography: Mapping BC

When are the Learning Labs?

Offered Monday through Friday, during the months of October through April.

What is the cost?

$99 for a class visit.

Get in Touch

Chris O’Connor
Learning Program Developer

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